2018 Financial Goals

FIRE Journey Recap

Here is a refresher to our overall end state FIRE assets and debt goals, along with our 2017 ending point.

In summary, our initial 2017 EOY assets goal was $527.5k, from a $388k starting point (end of 2016). Goal was later refined to $555k and ended with $572k! Whoa!

The plan was to add $140k in new liquid assets (pre and post tax, combined, excluding 529s and principal mortgage payments). We ended up putting in $141.5k (includes company matches), rest all market gains of $42.5k.

In addition, we paid an extra year of mortgage AND bought a new car in cash! On the debt front (mortgage and one car payment), our goal was $118k, ending with $106.3 instead, as we decided to add extra funds to our mortgage after we surpassed our stretch goal the first time.

For expenses we came in $6 dollars under-budget at $74,994, talk about great planning!

Finally, our final 529 balances is $60.8k, having only added $2k total, rest market gains. Well above what we anticipated.

For reference, here is our 2017 version of these goals.

2018 Financial Goals

Below are our major financial goals for 2018, inclusive of debt balance, expenses for the year and new savings/investments added.

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Our debt consists of a single car payment ($445 per moth) which has zero interest for the next 4 years, and our mortgage.

For our mortgage we will be paying $1,400 per month in 2018 which includes escrow and taxes.  Of this total, principal payments are considered in our total debt bucket but will count the entire $1,400 as a housing expense (a more realistic number in case we become renters and I want to understand expenses a little better).

Expense goal is $70k, $5k less than our goal for 2017.  This will mainly but not solely come from a cut to our vacation budget to $8k, down from $12,000. We will still travel, I just need to get more creative in my choice and use of destinations, points and miles. I am excited for the challenge!

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Here is the breakdown for our $140,000 investments plan for 2018:

2018 Financial Savings/ Investments

401k (2) $37,000
Company match $16,800
HSA Family $6,900
RHSA $1,500
Brokerage Post Tax $71,800
Bonus Post Tax $6,000
Total $140,000

Finally, since we front-loaded our 529s and don’t plan to add more in 2018, we will not be tracking that progress formally on an ongoing basis (just year end update). I do hope to hit a combined 529 balance of $63k by end of 2018, though it is not a priority unlike the other goals.

Of course, these financial goals are a sub-group of my wider life goals, which you can find in more detail here for 2018!

What are your goals like? What are you most hesitant, excited, nervous, ready, etc for? Let the financial challenge begin!

Happy, happy, happy new year!

2017 Life Goals Review

The below is the framework of things I wanted to focus on during 2017. More details on each and where I stood as of September 2017 can be found here.

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2017 Year in Review

The year started very rough but ended on a very high note! Lots of progress on the health front, most improve category for sure, especially relating to mental health, hooray!

I am very pleased with the focus on the most important relationships in my life. In addition, 2017 was an incredible year for our minimalism journey.  We also hit a ton of bucket and travel list items!

Professionally, I am doing really well, though promotions may come slower than anticipated. I am not too worried, I enjoy what I do and while more money would be nice, I made my FIRE plan assuming I would never get more money again.

Financial goals went beyond expectations, passing both the asset goal AND stretch goal. Check out more details here! Woo hoo!

Finally, on the wants category, I was able to get all the tattoos I have wanted for years AND, because our car died, we were able to get the electric car in 2017.

The one item that was not accomplished was probably the easiest one – renting my fun dream car for a weekend. It is a convertible and I got lazy, and I guess I don’t want it that bad as I kept putting it off. The goal has been moved to 2018, see how I go.

For 2018, I evolved my goals a little bit more, making them more specific for the specific year. Let’s keep the momentum going!

How about you? How was your year in review overall?


2017 Utility Expenses

Continuing with our expense analysis for 2017 (kids, pet, travel, car), time for utilities. Yuk!  I definitely have to pay attention to our expenses here, see where I can cut down a bit more.

2017 Utility / Phone Expenses

Cellphone  $1,140
Internet / TV $1,320
Electricity  $710
Air con maintenance $390
Water  $680
Pest Prevention $470
Total $4,710


Cellphone includes the purchase of an Iphone that we are paying monthly and service for 3 phones. We do not have cable, but internet and basic TV could cost less…alas, I hate calling them to negotiate!

Electricity does not look too bad for an all electric home (2100 square feet) – that said, remember that we do have 5kw of solar panels and we are pretty good at keeping an eye on our usage so there is that.

How about you – feeling good about your utility expenses this past year and going forward?


Initial Round The World Itinerary

After discussing the idea of a taking a year off to travel the world, time to get planning!

Phase I – Dream List

  • Colombia
  • Ecuador
  • Peru
  • Bolivia
  • Chile
  • Argentina
  • Uruguay
  • Brazil
  • Morocco
  • Spain
  • Italy
  • Greece
  • Turkey
  • Jordan
  • UAE
  • Bhutan
  • Myanmar
  • Thailand
  • Cambodia
  • Laos
  • Vietnam
  • Hong Kong
  • China
  • Japan

Our dream list above was already revised a few times. For example, South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe,  Scandinavia, Nepal and Taiwan were on the list but we swapped that for Spain, Morocco, Italy, Greece, Turkey and Jordan. I so wanted to add France, Croatia and Egypt, but alas, too little time, too much world!


I have been keeping a bucket list for a long time which I reference (and add to!) often. I also love travel blogs – my favorite right now being Earth Trekkers, World Travel Family and Where’s Sharon.

Lastly, researching RTW (round-the-world) trips I read that, generally, people do 15-20 countries, though I have seen as high as 35! We want to stay under the 25 country range.

What’s Next:

We know we cannot see it all so next we will drill down to the ‘must do’ list within each country to prioritize time and budget, and still leave a lot of unplanned time in between.

I anticipate that will give us an opportunity to better plan budget, which will inevitably make us further refine the plan when we realize how pricey that initial dream is (OR it will give me a travel hacking plan challenge to occupy myself with for the next year or two! :)).

Where would you go if you could travel for a year? Any recommendations on the above?

What If….Worldschool For A Year And Pause FIRE Plans?

After graduating from college, husband and I have taken 2 breaks from work, if you will, to live differently and pause for a second. First break came 4 years post college for our MAs abroad, second time a couple of years to be stay at home parents to my first and see the birth of our second, again in a different country.

Both of those breaks were amazing and definitely a highlight of our life journey so far.

Since then, we have decided to focus on a balanced search for FIRE so that we can lead a nomadic life upon retirement while at the same time fit as much travel as we can while we have our kids with us. This was the impetus for starting this blog in 2016.

I am not going to lie, this plan seemed 90% perfect to me. It would give me almost everything I ever dreamed of, except,  our kids would be college age (or almost ready) when we FIRED, not allowing for much time to do longer travels with them. Sure, there are summer breaks but would they want to hang out with us then still?

Just as I was about to make peace with that (hey it is very little compromise from what I think so far a perfect life, after all!), I read this. And THEN this.  This was it!!! This is what followed:

Me: Hey Mr TTR, I got it!! I got it!!

Mr TTR: Uhu, go on….(knowing something crazy was about to come out of my mouth…)

Me: I want to take a pause and do a year off so that we can travel with our kids before they are too old (10-14 range max) and worldschool them before coming back to work for one last round (6-7 years) and finally retire for good! What say you?

Two weeks later, we have a very rough plan of what we want to do and when we want to do it. We are not telling any of our friends and family of our potential plans (at least until it is more ‘real’) so I am relying on online communities for support and research.

What’s next?

Here is how we are approaching this:

Timeline: The trip ideally happens sometime between 2021 and 2023.

Financials:  In the next 6 months or so, we will draft up a general plan of what we want to do and estimated costs. From here we will adapt our FIRE plan.

A minimum requirement is that we at least have $1m in liquid assets, either leave house rented (and it has to cover 100%, which it should, if not we would sell it) AND $150k saved for the trip and contingency when we come back. That is our min-max guideline.

For now, we will continue with our current financial plan and make adjustments from the point where we hit the above $ (right now, if all things continue should hit it mid 2021) and go from there!

Travel plans: Once we make the above analysis we can make the final “Go” decision on our plans. When we are fairly sure we can turn this into reality, I will start sharing with you the detailed plan along with process and costs and resources I use to plan. Stay tuned!

Worldschooling: Once we figure out the above, we would have to figure this part out. Frankly this is the part that scares me most but I know we can figure it out. I essentially taught myself highschool while traveling the world, so I know it can be done, I just don’t know about state requirements for what they need to do in order to come back to their public school.

I am excited about the possibility but cautious in case we can’t make it work. Tell me, what do you think about this plan? Would you consider something similar? Have you done this before?

2017 Car Expenses

Continuing with the tracking of big bucket expenses (kids, dog, travel), time to check out  car expenses.

At the beginning of 2017 we had 3 cars, and somewhere along the lines we donated one that was approaching 200k miles.  One of the remaining ones we are financing still with 0% interest rate and a few more years to go and the other one was fully paid off at purchase almost 6 years ago.  Here is what the financials looked like for the year:

2017 Car Expenses

Car Payment $5,330
Gas, Repairs, Registration, etc. $1,310
Insurance $1,160
Total $7,800


Now, last year our grocery store had an awesome deal in which you could buy $50 dollar gas gift cards for $40, every time you purchased certain amount of money with them. We took the most advantage of this promotion and we are still using those gift cards in 2017, so our overall gas cost is actually really low in 2017. We still have about $500 in credit cards to go, then we will have to pay out of pocket, which is a bummer.

In addition, our older car died recently so, we acquired a new car on December 2017, with a purchase price of $13,900 (from replacement car money so not counting as extra expense in our year end review) and added extra insurance (annual payment pro-rated through September 2018), which, when added to the above, comes to:

2017 Car Expenses, Including New Car

Total car expenses 2017 $7,800
New car purchase $13,900
New car prorated insurance $540
Total $22,240

We are pretty excited about our new electric car and will be keeping an eye out for the cost of operating it vs our non EV car – both 2015 models.

How about you, what do your car expenses look like?


2017 Travel Expenses

Recently, I wrote about our kid expenses and dog expenses for 2017 (yikes!). Below is the breakdown of our $12,000 Travel budget for 2017.

2017 Travel

2018 Bali trip deposit (2) $3,520
One week Puerto Vallarta (4 people) $3,295
One week DC area (4) $1,115
Charleston weekend, yacht sleeping (4) $1,005
Glamping weekend – RV hotel (4) $670
One night Asheville (2 people) $300
2018 Weekend Dome hotel stay (4) $585
Credit card fees (miles & points) $725
One night Great Wolf Lodge (4) $330
Weekend camping (4) $235
One night Tree house hotel (4) $220
Total $12,000



We tried to give our family a great variety of experiences – sleeping on a boat, RV, camping, tree house, next year a dome, etc. Super fun travel year!

I am also including pre-payment expenses towards our epic (adults only!) almost 3 week trip to Bali next year (business class and luxury villas, baby!) – more on that soon! In addition, I pre-booked a “sleeping in a Dome” experience that I have wanted to try for a while and fit within budget so we went ahead and booked (next year travel budget goes down to $8K – will be hard to pre-book anything for 2019! Boo!).

Credit card fees & travel hacking

Yes, that is a hefty $725 dollar fee for credit cards that we use for travel hacking, but it absolutely pays for itself.

The biggest fee here is the Citi Prestige ($450 annual fee), which we have now had for 2 years. I love the 4th night free at most hotels, as many times as you want.  You also get credit for Global Entry (we used that last year) and a $250 credit on travel expenses, yearly.

Also this includes each of our Marriott cards ($85 fee each) for which we are able to get 1 night free at a category 1-5 yearly, and we took advantage of their 7 night fly and stay packages, for which we got 7 nights free in DC and transferred American Airlines points towards a business class ticket to Bali next year in Cathay Pacific. Absolutely pays for itself!

I will probably do another post with all the cards that we own and use for more info. And no, I don’t get compensated for this, solely my opinion and personal use (I will disclose if that ever changes).

Best move 2017

Beyond the week long stay in DC with Marriott, the best travel hacking was the week long trip to the stunning, all inclusive Puerto Vallarta Hyatt Ziva during spring break.

The flights were retailing for $850- 950 dollars, EACH! I was able to do a combination of AA miles and Citi Thank you points and credit to get that down to under $180 for all of us (taxes and fees). Total.

We then used a coupon to get kids 50% off for the hotel AND used the Citi Prestige to get the 4th night free on the all inclusive, which ended about $2,665 for 7 nights. Beyond that we spent about $150 in transportation and the rest on extras (jet ski rental and a massage, etc) for a total of $3,295 for a week long spring break all inclusive vacation for 4, abroad. Not bad!


Tell me – how was your travel and expenses in 2017? Any fun tips for travel hacking or must visit places, anywhere?

So…We Bought A Car

Recently I wrote about my life goals for 2018. And here, already, a perfect example of how I need to flex my life plans as life evolves.

The hope was to keep our old car alive for at least 3-4 more years (adding to the current 5.5 years of ownership).

Then our old car died. Twice in one week.

More than expenses, dealing with this frustration does not work for us anymore. We are done.

We are now the proud owners of a $13,900 Nissan Leaf 15′ SV, paid in cash (yay for financial planning!). Our old car is on its way to being donated, like we did our previous one, and finally we have the 2 cars that best fit our family.

Despite the unexpected cost, I am very excited especially since this is the one big ‘want’ my husband and I have had for years (really since it came out – and we talked about this again after we installed solar panels at home, 4 years ago. Yes, we are those people…).

I am cheating a bit and not counting this as an expense for 2017 as it did come from extra savings within our spending money, but will have to think more thoughtfully about how to deal with this for retirement.

With one month to go in 2017, we have hit our stretch asset goals for the year, took down an extra year of debt repayment from our plan, we are almost 2 years ahead of where we thought our 529s would be AND we were able to get our car with cash! Thank you market – I am enjoying the highs for sure as we brace for the lows!

Tell me, how have you had to adjust your plans? Do you own a EV? What is your experience? How do you track big expenses like these when you had already accounted for them in replacement fund money within your budget?